The Black Gold School Division is pleased to share that long-serving school principal Dr. Matthew Kierstead has been selected as a recipient of the 2021-2022 Distinguished Leadership Award, presented by the Council for School Leadership (CSL) of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
With this award, Dr. Kierstead joins a learning community of outstanding principals and assistant principals throughout Alberta who are seen as role models in a vibrant network of educational leaders with the confidence and capabilities to lead innovative change for 21st century learning.
“I was honoured, and flattered, when I was informed of the news,” said Dr. Kierstead. “The award in itself is a very nice acknowledgement, but the part that really speaks to me, that I truly appreciate, is my colleagues who took the time out of their busy lives to support the nomination. That means a lot to me.”
Dr. Kierstead has served as a school principal going on 25 years; he started teaching in 1994. ”I have worked in three different school jurisdictions,” he said. “I have fond memories of all the schools I have worked in, such as being the principal of a small Kindergarten to Grade 4 school located in a mobile home community,” said D, Kierstead. “I am very proud of the work I did with the staff there in bringing the students – who did not have all the same advantages of children in more affluent areas – and their community together in a wraparound model that included supports for both the kids and their families, not just the educational components.”
The combined efforts of the teachers and community members resulted in a fantastic preschool that supports the community,” he added. “The people I worked with at that school were very dedicated, hard working, knowledgeable, and in it for the kids.”
Principal Kierstead is also very proud of the work his staff are doing at École Coloniale Estates School in tackling student literacy, on how they allocate resources for the school, and how teachers approach professional development. “The evidence points to the fact that we are being very successful with our efforts, particularly in reading, which has been a school focus for the last few years,” he said. “In general, over 95 percent of our students are achieving the acceptable standard in their Grade Six Provincial Achievement Tests in reading, and typically over 50 percent are attaining the standard of excellence.”
“That speaks highly to the efforts of our teachers, from Kindergarten on through to Grade 6,” he added. “I am very happy with this outcome.”
Kierstead believes the success at École Coloniale Estates School has come about because he has been able to set up a culture in which teachers are engaged in developing themselves in areas that they identify for improvement or change. He also believes in leading by example. “I have been very self-directed in my own long-term professional development,” he said. “I waited until after I turned fifty before getting my education doctorate.”
Data-driven research, analysis and interpretation in order to validate work plans, improve processes, and realize efficiency has been an ongoing focus for Kierstead. “A lot of the work I have been doing as of late has been working with other principals within the district on quality data-informed decision making,” he said.
Kierstead has also been working with colleagues in other school jurisdictions throughout Alberta in a mentorship capacity. “As a principal, it has been very rewarding working with other principals.” He paused for a moment to reflect.“It’s been very humbling to get an award like this, especially when you see the talents, scope and abilities of so many individuals out there serving as principals and leaders.”
“I’m excited and looking forward to sharing my experiences with the CSL learning community and continuing as a mentor to new colleagues,” he added. “At this point in my career I find it very fulfilling to be passing on my experiences and knowledge gained over the years to others.”
Kierstead thinks the public education system in Alberta is one of the best in the world because principals work shoulder-to-shoulder with their teachers in the same association. “As principals we are teachers first,” he said. “We just have a different set of responsibilities.”
Dr. Kierstead will be presented with the Distinguished Leadership Award at a special celebration event on Friday, September 16, 2022, at the Faculty Club in Edmonton.